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Prisoners Flee Yemen Jail after Qaida Attack

More than 60 al-Qaida prisoners escaped from a south Yemen jail on Wednesday after they clashed with guards, killing one and wounding two others, security and medical officials told Agence France Presse.

The prisoners fled the central jail in al-Mukalla, capital of the Hadramawt province, into the nearby mountains after they overpowered the guards and seized some of their arms, a security official said.

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Impeachment of Iran Foreign Minister Scrapped

Iran's parliament on Wednesday scrapped plans to impeach Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi after he dismissed a controversial deputy who is close to the president's under-fire chief of staff, reports said.

A group of MPs on Tuesday had launched an impeachment motion against Salehi after he appointed Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh as a deputy foreign minister in charge of administrative affairs.

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Bahrain Court Jails 8 Opposition Activists for Life

A special Bahraini court on Wednesday sentenced eight Shiite opposition activists to life in prison for "plotting to overthrow" the kingdom's Sunni regime, state news agency BNA reported.

The National Safety Court of first instance also jailed 13 others for terms ranging from two to 15 years on similar charges, BNA added.

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Hamas Chief Meshaal Holds Talks in Turkey

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal held talks with Turkish officials on efforts to achieve Palestinian unity during a two-day visit to Istanbul ending later Wednesday, diplomats said.

Meshaal's talks in Turkey's largest city coincided with a four-day trip to the capital Ankara by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, at a time when Palestinian officials have reported disagreements between the two groups over the formation of a unity government.

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Italy Calls for Halt to Hostilities in Libya, China Recognizes Transitional Council

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called on Wednesday for an immediate halt to hostilities in Libya to allow humanitarian aid to reach the population in the strife-torn country.

Frattini called for "an immediate humanitarian suspension of hostilities" in Libya during a speech to the lower house of parliament.

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U.S. Defends Ambassador’s Participation in Tour Organized by Assad Regime

The Obama administration has struggled to explain why its ambassador to Syria participated in a sanitized trip to the country's restive north that was sponsored by President Bashar Assad's regime to attempt to justify its military crackdown.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday's trip to the abandoned town of Jisr al-Shughour allowed Ambassador Robert Ford to "see for himself the results of the Syrian government's brutality."

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Obama Warns of New Tactical Spats with Israel

President Barack Obama warned Monday that new "tactical" disagreements loomed between Israel and Washington, but vowed to leverage his administration's "creative powers" in the cause of peace.

Obama, who has had a testy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke at length on the stalled peace process at a fundraiser for his 2012 reelection campaign grouping Democratic friends of Israel.

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U.N. Chief Urges Syria's Assad to Make Reforms

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday to make credible reforms "without delay," after the Syrian leader offered a national dialogue to end months of anti-regime protests.

"He urges the president to carry on these reforms without delay and in a way that is both genuine and credible," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

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Israel Okays Materials to Build Gaza Homes, Schools

Israel has approved the delivery to the Gaza Strip of materials to build 1,200 homes and 18 schools in U.N.-run projects, a defense official told Agence France Presse on Tuesday.

The decision came shortly before the scheduled departure of an international convoy seeking to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza and as Israeli officials argued that there is no humanitarian crisis there.

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Yemen's Saleh 'Well' but Date of Return Uncertain

Wounded Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is "well" but the date of his return cannot be confirmed, the deputy information minister said on Tuesday, amid conflicting reports on the embattled leader's health.

"We have no confirmation yet" on the date of the return of Saleh, recovering in Riyadh from wounds sustained in an explosion as he prayed at his palace mosque earlier this month, "but we assume he'll be back within the few coming days," Abdo al-Janadi told Agence France Presse.

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